SURGEON’S DIARY: The boy with appendicitis and   a ‘dad’ who was not his father

Saturday March 18 2017

I felt like saying that he should be told and

I felt like saying that he should be told and then I remembered what I had read in my medical journal which said that 10 per cent of fathers bring up children who don’t have their genetic imprint. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

“Every-body got what they wanted. I wanted my son. Isaac did not want to carry any luggage to the church when he got married.”

“I have Kevin here, with what looks like acute appendicitis.” It was Dr Lubia on the phone.” He is 12 and I suspect that his appendix might have perforated because he is very tender and guarded in his right iliac fossa.” He was referring to the right lower corner of the abdomen and continued: “Considering the emergency, I have sent him to the hospital and have instructed the Sister of the children’s ward to inform you when he arrives.”

I knew that Dr Lubia possessed sound clinical acumen and replied: “I am still in the hospital and will wait for Kevin. From what you say, he might need emergency surgery.” I looked at my watch. It was nearing six in the evening and I had just finished my consultations for the day. Considering the Nairobi traffic, I usually drive home before five or leave it till seven or later when the rush on the roads abates.

I read the latest surgical journal to usefully occupy my time while I waited but the memory of Alan Lubia’s time in my unit at the teaching hospital distracted me. He did his fifth year clinical term and surgical internship with me, when I noticed the surgical bent of his mind. I was impressed by the gentle pair of hands he possessed, manifested in his examination of patients and also how he handled tissues of patients under anaesthesia. Clinically, his fingers moved like feathers on the very tender bellies, without hurting the patients and, in the operating theatre, he exhibited great dexterity in his manoeuvres. So when he discussed his career with me during his internship, I said: “You have the making of a good surgeon and I suggest that you do post-graduate in surgery.”

“Thank you for the compliment,” he replied. “But it is a long course and very competitive now. I want to give my wife a decent home and my children a good education, which are not cheap. I simply haven’t got the time.”